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Risk Factors

The risk factors for youth violence fit into the ecological model discussed in the previous section.

Individual characteristics such as impulsivity and aggressive attitude contribute to violent behaviour  [1] but community and societal factors indicative of poor economic status:

  • Unemployment and low income

  • Social isolation with racism and ghetto-ization of neighbourhoods

  • Lack of social services and social supports

all significantly contribute to gang culture and youth violence both in the US and worldwide.


It is important to note that access to guns increases the health costs of youth violence as does the use of alcohol and drugs [4].

What can be done to prevent youth violence?

  • The community and societal factors require large-scale efforts to address such issues as poverty, social isolation of minority populations, and racism.

  • There has been work done to design programs through schools and communities to work with youths at risk of or involved in violence.

  • Programs have been found to be effective if they include strategies which are multifaceted in approach, start early  (primary school), are culturally sensitive and present positive attitudes. [5]

  • Continued research and community commitment is needed to address the broad changes required to prevent youth violence.


1. WHO (2002). World report on violence and health: summary. Geneva, World Health Organization.

4. Waters, H. (2004). The economic dimensions of interpersonal violence. Geneva, World Health Organization: 24-27.

5. Weir, E. (2005). "Preventing violence in youth." CMAJ 172(10): 1291-2.

All references for this section